The Movie Series: Chapaguri (aka Jjapaguri aka Rom-Don) from Parasite (2019)

chapaguriI first caught wind of Parasite from The Big Picture podcast and it was clear that it was becoming a big deal. So when it hit theaters last October, I quickly made a movie date with a fiancé that was confused as to why I wanted to watch a thriller. I am not ashamed to say that I am a big chicken when it comes to movies in the horror/thriller genre. But the hype and the South Korean pride were too strong and I had to be a part of the wave.
how to make chapaguriI won’t go spoiling the movie for you, because it is best seen without knowing anything. But there is an overall theme of class difference and it is illustrated in so many ways.  One such difference is the chapaguri (aka jjapaguri aka ram-don) dish that the maid makes for the family. Chapaguri is traditionally made with two packages of instant noodles: one package of chapagetti (“chapa”), a black bean noodle, and one package of Neoguri (“guri”), a seafood ramyun. The wealthy family puts a lavish twist to it by topping the dish with Hanwoo, a premium beef with dense marbling. It’s the equivalent of topping a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese with a prime+ steak.
jjapaguri ram-donIt’s been years since I’ve eaten a pack of instant noodles but I had to get my hands on this dish asap. I went to the nearest Korean supermarket and grabbed the noodles and beef. It was delicious. The savory noodles coated with a sweet and spicy sauce (thanks to the spice packets) interspersed with juicy umami slices of melty beef. I can see why it’s a crowd pleaser for anyone. As for the calorie content? Well, it’s the weekend and weekends are made for cheat days. 🙂 Continue reading “The Movie Series: Chapaguri (aka Jjapaguri aka Rom-Don) from Parasite (2019)”

French Onion Mashed Potato Soup

French Onion Mashed Potato SoupOh, hello. It’s been a while. It’s been a whirlwind of a month since my last post. During the time I was away, I made a wedding cake, 200 cupcakes and threw an engagement party for my brother. There was a dessert bar, which I’ve wanted to do forever and a beautiful mini cake filled with flowers. I need to share photos with you guys asap as possible (<=the office).
French Onion SoupI almost called this soup, a shepherd’s pie French onion soup because of the mashed potato. But, as shepherd’s pie usually has beef and this does not, I felt like I would be misleading you. It has a ring of mashed potato that floats around the crouton, like a delicious moat around a castle of bread and cheese. The mashed potatoes meld into the soup once you dig into it giving it a velvety finish similar to potato soup.
French Onion Mashed Potato SoupI didn’t even plan on making it this way until I realized that I had some mashed potatoes left over from dinner the other night and thought that it was a great way to use up the rest of it. Because in the world of food math: potatoes + onions = winning. But really, you don’t have to go out of your way to make mashed potatoes because even without it, it’s a pretty darn awesome French onion soup.
French Onion Mashed Potato SoupFrench Onion Mashed Potato SoupI know it’s customary to put either gruyère or mozzarella on top of French onion soup, but I had some sliced Muenster cheese in my fridge and it melted beautifully. Insert heart eyes emoji .
French Onion Mashed Potato SoupP.S. I have this really awesome Christmas cake coming your way. Like my-mind-can’t-handle-it-cute. I can’t wait to share it with you as soon as I put it together. Hopefully, by next week!

French Onion Mashed Potato Soup

Makes about 2-3 servings

Ingredients:

4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large onions, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ c. red wine
1 ½ tbsp. flour
1 qt. beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
2 slices muenster cheese
mashed potatoes (recipe below)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until onions are caramelized, about 30 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and cook until the wine evaporates and the onions are dry.
  3. Discard the bay leaf and thyme spring. Stir in flour.
  4. Cook the flour over low heat for about 2-3 minutes (do not burn the flour).
  5. Slowly add in the beef broth while stirring.
  6. Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  7. Preheat your broiler. Fill your soup bowl or crock bowls with the soup.
  8. Place a large baguette slice in the center of the soup.
  9. Fill a piping bag fitted with large frosting tip with the mashed potato. (I used one with a lot of teeth hoping that it would make a pretty presentation with the toasted edges, but once the cheese covered it, it didn’t matter. So, any large cake tip will work.)
  10. Pipe around the floating slice of baguette.
  11. Place a slice of cheese on each bowl and broil until the cheese gets nice and toasty.
  12. Serve hot.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
1 stick butter, melted
1 c. heavy cream, divided
about ½ c. low-sodium chicken stock
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook potatoes until tender and easily pierced with a fork.
  2. Drain and peel potatoes under cool running water.
  3. Pass potatoes through a ricer into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  4. Add the melted butter and half of cream.
  5. Whip on low speed until cream and butter are incorporated. Move to a higher speed and whip until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
  6. Adjust the taste and consistency with more heavy cream or chicken stock.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve warm.

French onion soup recipe adapted from The Food Network.
Mashed potato recipe adapted from Serious Eats.

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze

bacon wrapped meatloaf with brown sugar ketchup glazeTiming is everything, isn’t it? In film and TV, it’s what makes a scene funny, scary or romantic. I guess you can say it also applies to real life, but the timing is rarely perfect. I set out to make this meatloaf on a cloudy Wednesday to get over the hump day blues. But about 15 minutes before the meatloaf was done, the power went out on my block. I was very much annoyed because not only was I borderline hangry (anger caused by hunger), there was a power outage the Sunday before. They’re usually very good about restoring power where I live because I live on a busy street in my town so I figured that I would wait until the power came back on. My resolve lasted about an hour and a half until I gave up and decided to order Papa John’s. It took another 50 minutes for the pizza to arrive and when I brought the pizza in, my cousin said, “Wouldn’t it be really funny if the lights came on right now?” and just like a sitcom, the lights came back on.
bacon wrapped meatloafbacon wrapped meatloaf with brown sugar ketchup glaze
Honestly, I was too hangry to find humor in the situation at the time but now that I look back on it, I can see that the timing was spot on. I reheated the meatloaf the next day, and as usual it was delicious. It is one of my favorite weekday meals to put together. Even better because it’s wrapped with bacon, and it is never dry. The original recipe states to use three kinds of meat but I simplify it and use just beef and pork which is just easier since they usually sell meat by the pound. I would say that the only downside to this recipe in comparison to others is that you have to cook the garlic and onion in a separate pan, which disqualifies it as a one-bowl recipe.
bacon meatloaf
Remember to line the sheet pan with aluminum foil to make clean up easier. Also, don’t forget to line the cooling rack with aluminum foil and poke holes in it for the fat to drain, because we don’t like greasy meatloaves, no sir. 

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze

For the Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze

Ingredients:
½  c. ketchup
4 tbsp.  brown sugar
4 tsp. cider or white vinegar

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar together until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

For the Meat Loaf

Ingredients:

2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black paper
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
¼ tsp. hot red pepper sauce
½  c. milk, buttermilk or low-fat plain yogurt
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground beef
⅔ c. crushed saltine crackers (about 16) or quick oatmeal or 1⅓ c. fresh bread crumbs
⅓ c. minced parsley
8 oz. thin-sliced bacon

Instructions:

  1. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, shiny side down.
  2. Line a metal cooling rack with aluminum foil (shiny side down), poking holes with a chopstick where the meatloaf will be, a little larger than a 9 x 5 inch rectangle (to drain the fat).
  3. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  4. In a medium skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is softened and translucent.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, thyme, salt, pepper, mustard, worchestershire sauce, hot sauce, and milk (or yogurt) together.
  6. Add in the pork, beef, crackers (or oatmeal or breadcrumbs), parsley and the cooked onion and garlic.
  7. Using your hands, mix everything together until it just comes together. Do not squish the meat between your fingers, use light hands.
  8. Shape the meat into a 9 x 5 inch rectangle on top of the cooling rack where the holes are.
  9. Using a silicone basting  brush, brush the loaf liberally with the ketchup glaze.
  10. Cover the loaf with the strips of bacon, tucking the ends under the loaf and slightly overlapping.
  11. Bake loaf until the center of the loaf registers 160°F, about an hour. About five minutes before the loaf is done, brush the entire loaf with the remaining ketchup glaze.
  12. Once out of the oven, let the loaf rest for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

Garlic Naan

Garlic Naan 1As much as I love trying out new restaurants and cuisines, I have a terrible habit of ordering the same menu items wherever I go. It’s not that I don’t like trying new things, I suppose I know what I like and I always crave that same dish every time. For example, at Thai restaurants it would be pad thai, chow fun at Chinese restaurants, gyro at Greek restaurants and chicken tikka masala and naan at Indian restaurants. Which brings us to today’s recipe, naan. As a lover of all things bread, fresh naan is one of those things that I can eat every day without complaint. (My waistline on the other hand is another story.) Glistening with melted garlic butter and specks of kosher salt, this buttery, chewy, slightly salty, sweet and crispy yeast bread is amazing.
Garlic Naan 4Garlic Naan 8What makes this garlic naan extra garlicky is the addition of granulated garlic to the yeast dough. That plus the chunks of fresh garlic in the melted butter makes this a flavor bomb that is just waiting to be consumed.
Garlic Naan 7 Garlic Naan 6If you’ve never worked with yeast before, I can understand why you would be wary of this recipe. Don’t be scared! Yes, the yeast can die on you but you can easily dump it out and try again if it fails. Just make sure that the filtered (don’t use tap water!) water is not over 115˚F when you add the yeast. Before I got a thermapen (Which btw, is awesome. It is worth every penny), I used to stick my finger in the water and if I didn’t have to immediately pull out my finger from the heat, I knew it was ready to go. Silly I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Garlic Naan 3Cook it under the broiler for that perfectly brown, slightly charred taste that you can probably replicate on the grill. I once read that it also works well on a George Foreman grill and also a greased pan on a stovetop. I’ve tried both methods and the broiler is the best. Hands down.
Garlic Naan 5Garlic Naan

Ingredients:
1 (.25 oz) package active dry yeast
1 c. warm water* (not above 115˚F)
¼ c. sugar, divided
3 tbsp. milk
1 egg
2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 tbsp. granulated garlic
4 to 4 ½ c. all purpose or bread flour**
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
6 tbsp. unsalted butter

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir water, 1 tbsp sugar and yeast together until yeast is incorporated.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix 3 tbsp sugar, milk, egg, salt, garlic and 4 cups of flour until combined.
  3. Once yeast has proofed, add it to the flour mixture and mix in the standing mixer with the dough hook attachment until combined. The dough should look fairly wet.
  4. Let the dough rest for 8 minutes.
  5. With the mixer on medium-low speed, knead dough until dough is smooth and pulls away from the bowl, about 6-8 minutes. If the dough does not pull away or show signs of it at 5 minutes, add the additional ½ c. of flour ¼ c. at a time until desired consistency forms.
  6. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour or doubled in size.
  7. On a floured surface, deflate and divide the dough into 16 even pieces and form into smooth balls.
  8. Place dough balls on a baking sheet and let rise for 30-45 minutes, or doubled in size.
  9. While the dough is rising, preheat the broiler in your oven. Line the broiling pan with a sheet of aluminum foil.
  10. In a microwave safe bowl, add the minced garlic and the butter and gently melt the butter.
  11. Once the dough has risen, flatten out the dough into a round or oval shape by gently stretching it out. The naan becomes crisper the thinner you stretch it.
  12. Place dough onto the broiler pan and cook 1-2 minutes until golden brown and slightly charred.
  13. Flip the dough over and cook for another minute or two until desired color is reached.
  14. Take naan out and while it is still hot, brush on melted garlic butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.
  15. Continue this step until all of the dough is cooked, buttered and salted.

*Make sure the water is not above 115˚F
**Both types of flour work well, but the bread flour produces a chewier naan.
***Recipe adapted from allrecipes.

Star Wars Rebels Party

Star Wars Rebels PartyIt’s been a while. With Thanksgiving and prepping for Step 3’s, life has been hectic! I feel a mix of regret and sorrow that I missed out on all things fall for the blog. But, it has fast forwarded to December which means that the holidays are here and that translates to holiday goodies. But before we get started on all things Christmas, let’s get to the Rebels Party.

As someone who has watched the Star Wars movies exclusively, I was skeptical when the hype for Star Wars Rebels rose out of midair. But after watching one episode (which led to another and another…), I have to say that I’ve fallen in love with the characters and the story line. There is just the right mix of darkness and humor for all ages to enjoy.

So when Mr. L approached me about doing another Star Wars party, I couldn’t say no. (This is the second Star Wars themed party to be featured on the blog. The first one is linked here.)

We drew inspiration from Lothal, the planet where the rebels operate.  Lothal is apparently the name of a real city in India and one of the characters, Ezra, really reminds me of Aladdin. Coincidence?? I think not. Anyways, a bit of yellow turf, clay mountains and a modified Lego Space Needle, made a cute tablescape that was reminiscent of the real thing.

Star Wars Rebels Party LothalAs always, there was food with punny names.

Star Wars Rebels Party 2 Star Wars Rebels Party 1Inquisitortilla Chips with Dual Dip (Inquisitor Tortilla Chips with Dual Dip)
Star Wars Rebels Party 4 Star Wars Rebels Party 3Sa-Bean Burritos (Sabine Burritos)
Star Wars Rebels Party 522 Pickup-Cakes (22 Pickup Cupcakes)
Star Wars Rebels Party 8 Star Wars Rebels Party 6Chopper Salad
Star Wars Rebels Party 9“Zeb” Orrelios Oreos
Star Wars Rebels Party 11 Star Wars Rebels Party  10TIE Lettuce Wraps
Star Wars Rebels Party 13 Star Wars Rebels Party 12Kanan Lightsaber Kebabs
Star Wars Rebels Party 15 Star Wars Rebels Party 16Jogan Fruit Juice
Star Wars Rebels Party 17Hoth2O (A nod to the original series)
Star Wars Rebels Party 18The Entire Spread

It was really fun hanging out with friends, eating good food and watching the special broadcast of “Spark of Rebellion” with the extended scene. Everyone went home with a goodie bag filled with Star Wars themed candy and a figure. Of course I got the one figure I didn’t want, the imperial commander. Boo.

Bánh Mì Quesadillas (Vietnamese Quesadillas)

Vietnamese Quesadillas 4I found something that has changed my life: cook-and-serve flour tortillas from TortillaLand. After reading this post about these tortillas, the first thing I did was do a quick search and found that the only Walmart that carried them were over 10 miles away. Now, I know 10 miles is nothing in other parts of the country, but for me? 10 miles is far, especially when there is a Walmart less than 4 miles away. I almost gave up on them, but I was haunted by their flaky, perfectly puffed up pictures and I had to have them. So I dragged my butt over to the Walmart and acquired a package of it. And as much as I wanted to have them right away, I couldn’t! I mean, yes, I could’ve tossed in a few well-chosen ingredients and called it a day, but these were special and I needed the final product to be as special as its base.
Vietnamese Quesadillas 3If you are not familiar with a bánh mì, it is a Vietnamese sandwich that is filled with meat, a mayo-based spread, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro, and chili peppers inside a baguette. If you’ve ever had a great bánh mì, you would know that it is an explosion of flavor and contrasting textures. In this spinoff, the mayo spread is replaced with mozzarella cheese, the bread with the tortilla and the meat with a Vietnamese fish-sauce shredded chicken.
Vietnamese Quesadillas 2Before I go on about the awesomeness of this quesadilla, I must warn you about this Vietnamese fish-sauce shredded chicken. It is a modified version of the famous Pok Pok’s wings. I’ve made the fried wings for this year’s Star Wars Day and it was the most delicious chicken wing I’ve ever put in my mouth (and I’ve had my fair share of fried chicken wings). The only downside is it will make your house smell like fish sauce. Now for some people, this might be a deal breaker but I swear to you, it is worth suffering a day of a fish sauce stink for it.
Vietnamese Quesadillas 1This is a minimum two-day project. You need a day to pickle the shredded daikon and carrots. It wouldn’t hurt to make the shredded chicken a day before either because it’s a little complicated than the average chicken recipe. But when you bite into that crispy flaky tortilla filled with warm melty cheese, garlicky chicken, tangy pickled vegetables and the crisp crunchy cucumber and jalapeño, it will make you say, “I can eat this every day of my life.” Because I did… every time I made it this week.
Vietnamese Quesadillas 2Bánh Mì Quesadillas (Vietnamese Quesadillas)

Pickled Daikon and Carrots

Ingredients:
1 large carrot
1 small daikon
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
½ c. vinegar
¼ c. sugar
½ c. water

Instructions:

  1. At least a day before making the quesadillas, grate the carrot and daikon over the large holes in a box grater.
  2. Heat vinegar, water and sugar together until sugar dissolves.
  3. Place carrot, daikon and cilantro in a heatproof bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables.
  4. Once cooled, marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

Vietnamese Fish-Sauce Shredded Chicken

Ingredients:
8 large cloves of garlic
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ c. warm water
½ c. fish sauce
½ c. sugar
1 ½ lb. chicken, cooked and shredded

Instructions:

  1. Finely mince the garlic and place into a small bowl.
  2. Sprinkle salt over it and add warm water to the bowl and stir. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Pour the garlic mixture over a sieve and push the garlic to extract as much juice as possible. Reserve the garlic juice and garlic bits separately.
  4. Stir fish sauce and sugar together with the garlic juice until sugar is dissolved.
  5. In a small pot, pour a few tablespoons of oil and heat until oil shimmers.
  6. Fry the reserved garlic bits until it turns golden brown and drain on a paper towel.
  7. Add the fish sauce mixture into the small pot and simmer until it becomes a thick sauce.
  8. Once thickened, pour over the shredded chicken and mix until completely covered.
  9. Add the fried garlic pieces and mix thoroughly.

Assembly

Ingredients:
pickled daikon and carrots
Vietnamese fish-sauce shredded chicken
seedless cucumbers, sliced into thin strips
mozzarella cheese, shredded
jalapeño, sliced thinly
flour tortillas*

Instructions:

  1. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.
  2. Toast the tortillas on both sides. (If using the cook and serve tortilla, cook the tortilla on both sides.)
  3. Spread mozzarella cheese evenly across a tortilla and melt.
  4. Once the cheese has melted, spread the shredded chicken over half of the tortilla.
  5. Layer the pickled daikon and carrots, followed by the cucumber and then the jalapeños.
  6. Fold tortilla in half and press down to secure the fillings.
  7. Remove from pan and cut into wedges.
  8. Enjoy

I highly recommend the cook-and-serve flour tortillas from TortillaLand.
** Picked daikon and carrot adapted from All Recipes.
*** Vietnamese fish-sauce shredded chicken adapted from Pok Pok by Andy Ricker.

Easy Galbi Tacos {Simple Sundays}

Kalbi Tacos 7I wasn’t sure if I should really put the word “Galbi” (aka Kalbi / 갈비) since this recipe isn’t a traditional Galbi recipe. Galbi is a Korean grilled dish made by marinating meat in a soy sauce based sauce. It usually requires grated onions and Asian pears, and to be honest some days I don’t even have the time to do that. So this is my extremely simple version of Galbi sauce. You literally put everything in a glass bowl, whisk, put meat in and you are done. The only utensils you need are measuring cups and spoons, and no cutting boards, or knives are required. Is it going to taste traditional? No.  But it’s darn tasty, I can guarantee that.
Kalbi Tacos 6On the weeks I know I will be short on time, I cut up whatever meat I have on hand (usually short ribs or chicken breasts) make this marinade and toss it in. Over the next few days, I’ll cook it up little by little incorporating it to whatever dish I decide for the day.
Kalbi Tacos 9Kalbi Tacos 2Whenever I decide to make tacos, I usually buy more corn tortillas than I need and freeze the leftovers for another day. If you toast it over a (clean) gas burner, it reheats well and becomes soft and pliable in the middle and toasty crisp on the edges. I happened to have some frozen corn tortillas in the freezer and decided to make quick tacos.
Kalbi Tacos 8Kalbi Tacos 1You can really top this with whatever you’d like. On this particular day, I ran out of cheese, sour cream, parsley, avocados… pretty much every traditional taco ingredient and put my meat on a bed of mixed greens, topped it with Sriracha and sesame seeds. It still turned out delicious.
Kalbi Tacos 4Easy Galbi Tacos

For the marinated meat:
½ c. brown sugar, packed
½ c. soy sauce
¼ c. water
2 tbsp. mirin (rice wine)
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tbsp. sesame oil
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. of meat, cut into strips (I usually use chicken breasts or short ribs)

Instructions:

  1. In a large glass bowl, whisk all the ingredients (minus the meat) until combined.
  2. Place meat into bowl, turning to coat.
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and put into the fridge to marinate.

For the tacos:
½ lb. mixed greens
12 corn tortillas, toasted
¾ lb. cooked, marinated meat
Sriracha sauce
toasted sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Cook the meat to desired doneness.
  2. Top toasted tortillas with mixed greens.
  3. Top with meat, Sriracha and sesame seeds.
  4. Consume.

Broiled Lamb Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli {Simple Sundays}

Broiled Lamb Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli  4I understand that sometimes my recipes are a little tricky, have too many steps, slightly overabundant in ingredients or a bit complicated. So on Simple Sundays, every recipe will be exactly as stated. Simple. There will be many recipes almost too basic to even write a recipe for, but still delicious in its simplicity. It will include every day dinners that can be done around 30 minutes or cookies that can be whipped up on a whim. After all, we can’t make gourmet meals every night. 🙂
Broiled Lamb Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli  1I have to be honest; I’m not a huge fan of lamb. It is usually too gamy for my palate. But, there is something about lamb chops that is so tender and delicious, I can’t resist them. Plus, they aren’t as gamy as other cuts of lamb.
Broiled Lamb Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli  2This is one of those dinners that are effortless but sounds fancy and plates beautifully. The only downside is that your oven has to be on. However, it’s been so chilly here in Jersey that the prospect of a warmer kitchen isn’t terribly off putting.
Broiled Lamb Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli  3Broiled Lamb with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli

Ingredients
1 rack of lamb, frenched
1 lb. baby potatoes*
4 cups of broccoli florets
1 tsp. granulated garlic (or 4 garlic cloves, minced)
dried or fresh thyme
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F and on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil, drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic. Put into oven to start roasting.
  2. Divide the rack of lamb into individual lamb chops. Arrange your lamb chops on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil and season with salt, pepper and thyme on both sides.
  3. When the potatoes have roasted for about 15 minutes, turn the oven on to broil and remove the pan of potatoes.**
  4. Add the broccoli to the pan and season the broccoli with the remaining ½ tsp of granulated garlic, salt and pepper. Place the pan back in to the oven.
  5. Broil the lamb chops 5 minutes per side, 10 minutes in total. Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes.
  6. The potatoes and broccoli should be done at the same time as the lamb chops. If not, continue baking while the lamb is resting and check every 2 minutes. You want a knife to slide easily into the potato and the broccoli to be crisp tender.
  7. Arrange them on a plate and you’re done!

* Buy them as small as you can get them for faster cooking.  I get teeny tiny potatoes from Trader Joe’s and it’s the best thing for quick meals.
** I should note that I have a gas oven that has a separate broiling rack under the oven.

Sausage and Spinach Pasta

Sausage and Spinach Pasta 3I have this silly mentality that as long a dish has dark leafy greens, it is somewhat healthy.  Peas, carrots, celery… those don’t fool me, but add kale, spinach, or broccoli to the mix and I’ll think that it’s nutritious.  So if you follow my train of thought, you can understand why I would proclaim that this pasta is nutritious and healthy.
Sausage and Spinach Pasta 6It’s really not though, I should know.  It’s rich without feeling heavy and gloriously creamy without being greasy.  In fact, it tastes so decadent that people were surprised I only used 4 tablespoons of butter for an entire pound of pasta.
Sausage and Spinach Pasta 1It starts with a pound of good Italian sausage, and when the sausage is cooked and the delicious brown bits are formed, you add your veggies.
Sausage and Spinach Pasta 2Then you start your béchamel sauce which is the key to having a pasta taste so creamy and finally, you add your freshly grated cheddar.  No, not the shredded bagged stuff, the seriously sharp, good stuff you get by the block. The dish comes together relatively quickly and the sauce requires only one pot. Oh, and the flavor? Explosive! 😉
Sausage and Spinach Pasta 4

Sausage and Spinach Pasta

Ingredients:
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1 lb. dried pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
½ lb. baby spinach
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
⅓ c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ c. whole milk
1 ½ c. chicken stock
6 oz. aged white cheddar, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil while you prepare the sauce.
  2. In a large, heavy bottomed pot cook the Italian sausage until cooked through and brown bits have formed on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the onion and cook until softened, then add the spinach, garlic and red pepper flakes until the spinach wilts and releases liquid.  Continuously scrape the bottom of the pot to remove the brown bits.
  4. Add the butter and once it melts, stir in the flour and cook until the mixture becomes pasty and smells slightly nutty.
  5. Slowly add in the chicken stock while stirring the mixture to avoid any lumps.
  6. Then, slowly add in the whole milk while stirring the mixture to avoid any lumps.
  7. Add the grated cheddar in small increments until completely incorporated.
  8. Simmer sauce while boil the pasta.
  9. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, add salt and pepper to the sauce to taste.
  10. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir until sauce is evenly distributed throughout the pasta.

Star Wars Day 2014

Star Wars Day 2014 1This is the third year I’ve hosted a Star Wars Day party.  It involves good food with punny names, watching SW movies and SW themed board games.  The first SW party I threw was just a small surprise for a special someone but through the years it’s evolved into a bigger celebration.  I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, but I can say that I love throwing themed parties.  So in a way, I do love Star Wars Day.
Star Wars Day 2014 2Star Wars Day 2014 4This year‘s party theme was Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, so all of the food and activities were centered on Episode 1 characters and settings.  Here are the things we made for SW Day*:
chicken pod piechicken pod pie 2Star Wars Day 2014 7 Star Wars Day 2014 8obi wontons obi wontons 2padme parfaitpadme parfait 2quail gon jinn 1 quail gon jinn 2watto's wings 1 watto's wings 2The centerpiece of the table was my Darth Maul-ble Cake, a marble cake with chocolate frosting and a chocolate transfer of Darth Maul.   There was a small chorus of “wows” when I revealed it.  Chocolate transfers can take a bit of time, but it is straight forward and simple to do.  I used the same technique for this piece and it turned out fabulous.
steps darth maulI think Darth Maul is quite scary.  To be completely honest, I got a wee bit frightened trying to find the right photo for the transfer.  Filling in the chocolate parts was no walk in the park either, he was just as scary.  I know it sounds silly, but if your imagination runs as wild as mine does I’m sure you understand. Revenge of the Six-th indeed. 🙂
Star Wars Day 2014 19Darth Maul-ble Cake

You will need:

1 Chocolate Marble Cake – Recipe Below
1 Batch of Chocolate Frosting – Can be found here
Black Candy Melts
Red Candy Melts
Yellow Candy Melts
White Candy Melts
A mirrored image of this printout in a black circle

Instructions:

  1. Tape the printout onto a baking sheet or any desired flat surface.
  2. Tape a piece of parchment paper over the printout making sure it covers the entire image.
  3. Melt a small amount of black, red, yellow and white candy melts (do not meld the colors together).
  4. Remember, chocolate transfers are all about layering.  Each time you fill out the next step, you will be going over the previously filled portion.
  5. Using either a toothpick or a piping bag fitted with either a #1 or #2 round tip, fill in the pupil of the eye with the black candy melt. (As shown in the above photo.)
  6. Mix the yellow and white candy melt to get a light ivory hue for the horns. Fill in. (As shown in the above photo.)
  7. Once the pupil is set, fill in the iris with the yellow candy melt.  Let set. (As shown in the above photo.)
  8. The outer edge of the iris has a red outline.  Carefully, trace a red border around the yellow candy melt. Let set. (As shown in the above photo.)
  9. Fill in the sclera with the white candy melt.  (As shown in the above photo.)
  10. Fill in the white edge of the hood while the sclera sets. (As shown in the above photo.)
  11. Using the red candy melt, start filling in the mask like patterns on the face.  Try not to lose the detailed edges because that’s what makes the image pop. (As shown in the above photo.)
  12. Once the red candy melt is set, melt some black candy melts.  Make sure it is not piping hot because you will lose some detail if it is.
  13. Smooth over the entire circumference with the black candy melts.  Let completely set.
  14. Place on top of frosted cake and you’re done!

Chocolate Marble Cake

Ingredients:
1⅔ c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. kosher salt
4 oz. unsalted butter, melted
1 c. sugar
1 egg, room temp
¼ c. Greek yogurt
¾ c. + 1 tbsp. milk, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ c. unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and prep a 9” cake pan by coating it with nonstick spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Mix melted butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined.
  4. Add the egg, Greek yogurt, ¾ c. milk and 1 tsp. vanilla extract to the butter mixture and mix until homogenous.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and fold until smooth.
  6. Transfer ½ of the mixture to another bowl, mix in 1 tbsp. milk and cocoa powder until a thick chocolate batter forms.
  7. Put half of the vanilla batter into the prepared cake pan and spread out.
  8. Pour all of the chocolate batter on top of the vanilla mixture.
  9. Pour the rest of the vanilla batter over the chocolate batter.
  10. Using a toothpick or a butter knife, make swirls all over the cake. Be careful not to over swirl, or you will lose the marbling.
  11. Bake 18-25 minutes until golden brown or a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cake recipe adapted from sally’s baking addiction.


* If you would like detailed info on any of the food I’ve prepared, don’t be afraid to leave a comment or shoot me an email!